Headshot Lee Franco_04162021

R. Lee Franco, Ph.D.

Associate Professor;
Department Chair
(804) 828-1948
500 Academic Centre
1020 West Grace St.


2009 - Ph.D. in Rehabilitation and Movement Science, Virginia Commonwealth University, VA.

2004 - M.S. in Exercise Science, University of Southern Mississippi, MS.

2001 - B.S. in Exercise Science, University of Southern Mississippi, MS.

Teaching Assignments

HPEX 350 - Sport Nutrition

HEMS 604 - Nutrition for Health and Physical Activity

REMS 690 - Research Seminar in Rehabilitation and Movement Science

REMS 705 - Metabolic Aspects of Physical Activity

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding the importance of lifestyle behaviors (e.g., physical activity, fitness, sleep, and nutrition) in modulating the vascular and inflammatory response associated with cardiovascular health inequities.

Select Publications

Blanks A.M., Wagamon T.T., Lafratta L., Sisk M.G., Senter M.B., Pedersen L.N., Bohmke N., Shah A., Mihalick V.L., Franco R.L. Impact of Physical Activity on Monocyte Subset CCR2 Expression and Macrophage Polarization Following Moderate Intensity Exercise. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health. January 2020, DOI: 10.1016/j.bbih.2019.100033

Carbone S., Billingsley H.E., Rodriguez-Miguelez P., Kirkman D.L., Garten R., Franco R.L., Lee D.C., Lavie C.J. Lean Mass Abnormalities in Heart Failure: The Role of Sarcopenia, Sarcopenic Obesity, and Cachexia. Current Problems in Cardiology. March 28. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpcardiol.2019.03.006, 2019.

Lipford G.F., Evans R.K., Acevedo E.O., Wolfe L.G., Franco R.L. Excess Blood Flow Response to Acute Resistance Exercise in Obese and Non-Obese Individuals. Journal of Strength and Conditioning. Nov 31(11):3120-3127, 2017.

Crabb E.B., Franco R.L., Caslin H.L., Blanks A.M., Bowen M.K., Acevedo E.O. The Effect of Physical Versus Mental Stress on Soluble Adhesion Molecule Expression. Life Sciences. Jul 15(157): 91-96, 2016.

Crabb E.B., Franco R.L., Bowen M.K., Huang C.J., Caslin H.L., Acevedo E.O. G Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase-2 in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells Following Acute Mental Stress. Life Sciences. 145: 184-189, 2016. 

Caslin H.L., Franco R.L., Crabb E.B., Huang C.J., Bowen M.K., Acevedo E.O. The Effect of Obesity on Inflammatory Cytokine and Leptin Production following Acute Mental Stress. Psychophysiology. 53(2): 151-158, 2015. 

Publications listed on PubMed.


Department Chair, Department of KHS, VCU.

Special Assistant to the Dean of Finance and Space Planning, VCU. 


VCU Student Organization Development University Faculty Advisor of the Year, 2013

Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi – Faculty Membership, VCU Chapter #193, 2012  

Grant Support (active)

Title: Exercise-induced alteration of postprandial inflammatory responses in overweight/obese black female breast cancer survivors.
Agency: College of Humanities and Sciences Catalyst Grant
Role: Principal Investigator.

Title: Impact of cardiovascular fitness on postprandial monocyte maturation.
Agency: Sigma Xi
Role: Student Mentor (student PI: Lauren Pedersen).